Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: iWitness Books from Apologia

Over the last several years, as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we have enjoyed reviewing several amazing books from Apologia Educational Ministries, most recently, we were asked to review their new series of iWitness books by Doug Powell.

We received 3 books:

New Testament iWitness
Old Testament iWitness
iWitness Biblical Archaeology

In an interview with the author, he tells Apologia that he wrote these books because they are books he wishes were available when he was looking for answers to questions such as "where did the Bible come from?"

Each of these little books packs a TON of information into a small, easy-to-read format. As the titles suggest, these books respectively, talk about how the canon of the New Testament was determined, how the canon of the Old Testament was determined, and what archaeological evidence is there collaborates the Biblical accounts.

If we got these books a year ago, it would have been pretty much 100% new information for all of us. I have to admit, I don't remember ever questioning where the Bible came from, and if I ever learned it, growing up, it didn't make enough of an impression for me to remember it.  However, our study of Ancient history last year provided us with much fascinating information about the archaeological evidence to back up the Biblical account, and we learned briefly about how the canon of scripture was determined for as part of our Bible curriculum last year.

All of that has done a good job of whetting our appetites for this information, so when I told Lexie and Ashlyn about these books, we were all excited to check them out. Conveniently, there are 3 books, and 3 of us, so as soon as we received them, we each took one, read it, then traded . . . and traded again :)

These aren't huge books, I easily read each book in a couple hours (broken up into a million little pieces because I'm a mommy, and that's what mommies do). The girls read a bit slower, and they found the font, which resembles handwriting, hard to read, but they were able to read each book in less than a week (and tht was in the midst of all the travelling and house projects and such we've been busy with lately).

As soon as we got the books and started reading them, Ashlyn started sharing things with me. I frequently heard "Mommy did you know . . . ?"  That's always a good sign. The girls also asked many questions about what they were reading. The books got them thinking, I like that!

Instead of being written like a "normal" book, these books are designed with little tidbits of information that appears to be jotted down on scraps of paper with pictures of artifacts and such in the background. As I mentioned above, the downside of this is, the "handwriting" type of font was sometimes hard for my children to read. These books are described as being for a reading level of age 11 and up, and my girls are 11, perhaps one reason for this is the font? I don't think my girls found the content itself, to be at all challenging to their reading ability, but we don't really pay attention to reading levels, I suspect that, from a comprehension standpoint, they are "above grade level". I think I, personally, would have been just as happy reading clear text on one page and having clear artifact pictures on another page, I didn't really see where the layout added anything to the information but perhaps some children would find this layout different enough to catch and hold their attention.

One thing that disappointed me was that the Archaeology book strongly hints at the idea of Noah's flood being a local, rather than worldwide flood.

Overall, despite the flood-references, we enjoyed these books. They are available for $14 each from Apologia Educational Ministries.

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